Head century proves coming of age for young captain

90, 95*, 92, 98, 98, 85.

Those are a list of innings in which he has flirted with triple digits since making his first-class debut for the West End Redbacks in 2012, along with another eleven classy half-centuries for South Australia that didn't convert into a tick in the batsman's coveted century column. 

That was until Monday’s maiden first-class ton of 114 against the Warriors, which saw South Australia’s number four guide the Redbacks to their first Shield win of the season from a seemingly impossible position on Day Three.

Heralded as a prodigious talent from a young age, it was always a matter of when, rather than if, Head would break through the lauded batsman’s milestone.

But whilst the young skipper did his best to downplay the significance of the achievement in the aftermath of yesterday’s thrilling one-wicket victory, all those in attendance could tell you that his celebration after beating the man at cover told an entirely different story.

WATCH: Highlights from Head's maiden first-class century against WA. 

It follows his second List A century (and first for South Australia) against WA in the opening match of the Matador Cup, in which he smashed a staggering 202 off just 120 deliveries, including 32 boundaries, to power SA to a similarly unlikely win.

But whereas that particular innings was an extended showcase of Head’s power and skill, yesterday’s knock was a test of his mental strength and maturity.

When quizzed on his mindset as he edged closer to the elusive milestone, Head revealed captaincy and the team-oriented focus it demands to have helped steel him to his highest four-day score.

“A little bit of relief, I didn’t really think about it too much to be honest,” he said when speaking to media this morning.

“Rossy was really good in the middle, we were just trying to think about what we needed to win the game. I wasn’t looking too much at the big scoreboard, I was more often looking at the electronic scoreboard and how many runs we needed [to win].

“It wasn’t until close at the end there that I realised I was hopefully going to get it.”

WATCH: Head praises the Redbacks bowling attack for keeping their side in both Shield matches this year. 

Whilst Head insists his and the team’s focus has now squarely shifted to their match against Queensland at the Gabba on Saturday, one has to wonder how much pressure the breakthrough score must have relieved for him - if even subconsciously - and the consequent effect it could have on his batting.

It’s a scary thought for opposition teams, with Head having publicly stated his desire to “lead from the front” by making runs this year.

But even prior to yesterday’s heroics, those around the Redbacks camp have noted the step up in Head’s leadership on and off the field this season.

It’s something Head himself admits to feeling more comfortable with since being thrust into the position halfway through last season.    

“I do, I feel really comfortable with the captaincy this year,” he said.

“I took a bit of time out at the end of the year and reflected on what I needed to get better at, and I think I just grew in confidence and thought ‘okay, this is time.’

“I went in a bit raw last year and didn’t really understand [the role], and this year I’m just trying to lead from the front as much as possible.”

For Redbacks fans, they’ll be hoping that yesterday’s performance will be just the first of many triple figure contributions from their young star in the making. 

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